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Giant Scorpion

December 25, 2007

Paleontologists have found the largest single arthropod known to science.


A colossal scorpion. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

An eight-foot long scorpion may sound like a 1950’s movie monster. But it actually once roamed the Earth, according to a new fossil discovery in Germany. It’s a claw from a species of giant sea scorpion that dates back 400 million years. Paleontologist Simon Braddy of the University of Bristol in England and his colleagues calculated the creature’s record-shattering size from the claw.

SIMON BRADDY (University of Bristol):
This is no means an isolated case; we do have other examples of giant creepy-crawlies in the fossil record; it’s just this one is the biggest bug yet.

Its contemporaries included dragonflies with two-foot wingspans and six-foot long millipedes. As to why they’re not around anymore, Braddy suspects that they couldn’t compete with more nimble vertebrates on the same turf. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.